While American counterintelligence officials probe whether the sitting president is a agent working on behalf of a hostile foreign power, his administration has continued to churn away with its usual aggressive incompetence.
A new Wall Street Journal report reveals that after an Iranian-friendly Shiite militant group fired three mortars into Baghdad’s diplomatic quarter last September, causing no injuries, Trump’s national security team asked the Pentagon to craft plans for a possible military strike on Iran.
“It definitely rattled people,” a former senior U.S. administration official said of the request. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
We can blame national security adviser John Bolton for this one; the ultrahawkish Bolton has been pressing “regime change” in Iran for a very long time, and has aggressively endorsed military strikes as the way to get it. The requested plans for an Iranian strike were drawn up, but the Journal cannot confirm whether they went to Trump himself or who, exactly, on Team Trump thought better in the end of starting a new regional war in response to three mortars landing in an unused lot.
Because Trump himself has shown a relentless indifference to actual policy, including a reported chafing at having to sit for or read through any national security discussions that cannot be turned into a few terse bullet points, his staff is largely guiding these policy decisions. It is they who present him with options to chose from; it is they who coax him into choosing one or the other based on his only relevant criteria: Which option will make him look strongest?
It does not always work; the Trump decision to cede the ISIS battle to, conspicuously, Vladimir Putin was a shock that few of his advisers appeared to see coming. But on each of those national security questions, Trump’s primary non-Fox & Friends advice comes from the very same neoconservative networks that absolutely insisted regime change in Iraq would usher in a new age of Middle East peace and America-loving, and you need no more evidence of conservatism’s utter collapse into evidence-averse, cultish bleatings than the continued elevation of those voices, including Bolton, in the White House today. John Bolton has been proven by history to be an absolute incompetent; John Bolton is the Larry Kudlow of war.
So there it is, if you thought that there wasn’t quite enough to be panicked about in the longest federal government shutdown ever, by a sitting president under investigation for being a possible agent of a foreign power. In the last four months we’ve come very close to also being in a White House-instigated shooting war with Iran.